How to Grow Gorgeous Tomatoes from Seed

Do you love tomatoes? Cherry, big beef, roma, whatever – few things are as delectable as a mid-summer, vine-ripened, juicy tomato. If you want tomatoes in your garden this year (or even in a pot in your kitchen), here are some tips to keep them strong and healthy while you’re growing them under your indoor greenhouse lights.

How to Grow Gorgeous Tomatoes from SeedView in gallery

How to Grow Tomatoes from SeedView in gallery

Some plants, such as tomatoes, actually require container-upsizing as a critical part of their growth. When the tomato plant is too top-heavy for its small container, it’s time to move it up. After a 4” square container, it’s time to go to gallon-size.

Fill a gallon container with soilView in gallery

Fill a gallon container with potting soil/mix.

DIY Tomato Tips create a holeView in gallery

Create a hole roughly 4” in diameter.

Pull out the tomato plantView in gallery

Pull out the tomato plant from its now-small pot, taking care not to break the stem. That would be sad.

Use your finger lightlyView in gallery

Use your fingers to lightly break up the roots at the bottom of the root ball before setting your plant into its new home.

Place tomato plant low into the gallonView in gallery

Place the tomato plant low into the gallon pot, so the root ball soil level is about an inch lower than the new soil level.

Leaves tomatoView in gallery

If any leaves, like the two original leaves (which look different than other leaves on a tomato plant) fall near or under the new soil line, go ahead and pull them off. They’ve served their purpose and are no longer needed; if they land under the soil, they’ll probably just wilt and potentially mold, so better to just remove them now.

Firm up the soil connectionView in gallery

Firm up the soil connection between the old and new soil.

Lower root ball soilView in gallery

Add more if needed, to make up for the lower root ball soil.

Transplant a tomatoView in gallery

Each time you transplant a tomato, you bury the stalk down further in the next-bigger container. This strengthens the stalk and plant overall, so the more you transplant into increasing sizes of containers, the hardier your tomato plant will be.

Help tomato plants stay manageableView in gallery

Tip: One way to help tomato plants stay manageable and productive is to trim the suckers off while they are small. Suckers are tiny branch starts that come up between an established branch and the stalk.

Pinch or cut the plantView in gallery

When you see a sucker, simply pinch (or cut) it off right away. Keeping them on the plant takes energy away from growing and/or producing more fruit. You don’t want a million branches, you want a million delicious tomatoes!

newly transplanted tomato plant leansView in gallery

Tip: If your newly transplanted tomato plant leans, you’ll want to support it until it “learns” to grow straight and true.

Stick a bamboo skewerView in gallery

Stick a bamboo skewer into the soil near, but not damaging, the stalk.

Extra ling plastic twist tieView in gallery

Grab an extra-long plastic twist-tie and loop it loosely around the upper stalk and the bamboo skewer.

Tighten the twist tieView in gallery

Tighten the twist tie. It might be tempting to twist the stalk right onto the bamboo skewer tightly so there’s no give or lean. But this will actually cut into the soft stalk and do perhaps permanent damage, so loose is best.

Tomato plant plenty of roomView in gallery

Give your tomato plant plenty of room to grow while just nudging it into a straight-up growth direction.

More water for plantView in gallery

Anytime you transplant or do anything that might shock a plant, give it a hearty drink of water afterward to help ease the transition.

Growing tomato from seedsView in gallery

After the last frost of the season, plant your tomato plant(s) outside, in a garden plot, a square foot garden, or even a large pot. They do well to be trained up a trellis or cage of some sort; be sure to keep up on removing the suckers. With proper water and sunlight, your tomatoes will grow to be large, beautiful plants with delicious fruit by mid- to late summer. Enjoy!